Update: Iranian state media reported Sunday that four inmates died of smoke inhalation and 61 people were injured in a fire at the Evin prison, NBC News reports. Prison sources told BBC Persian, however, that the toll is higher. The state news agency quoted judiciary officials as saying that inmates had set prison uniforms on fire Saturday at a warehouse and that there were clashes between prisoners and employees. Tehran's governor told state TV that there was a riot in one wing of the prison. Families had not been able to reach prisoners by phone to check on them, but some inmates were able to get word to relatives that they were safe. Our original story from Saturday follows:
Shooting could be heard Saturday inside a Tehran prison holding political prisoners, and witnesses said heavy smoke from a fire was rising above the complex. Families of prisoners assembled at the Evin prison's main entrance, a witness told Reuters. "I can see fire and smoke. Lots of special forces. Ambulances are here too," the witness said. The US-based Center for Human Rights in Iran said an armed conflict had broken out in the prison, per the AP, and state media reported fighting between prisoners and personnel. A government security official shown on state media blamed the clash on "criminal elements."
Anti-government demonstrations took place across Iran again on Saturday, per the BBC. The protests began after Mahsa Zhina Amini, 22, died in police custody after being detained for breaking Iran's hijab law. Hundreds of protesters have been taken to the Evin prison, which has been the subject of complaints by Western human rights groups, per the BBC. A security official said that the rioters at the prison had been separated from the rest of the inmates, and that the situation was under control and the fire was being extinguished. But videos were still being posted online showing the smoke-filled sky, per the AP, with audio of an alarm sounding and gunshots being fired. (Read more Iran stories.)